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“Foodie Fun”
Review of Ask

Ranked #33 of 1,524 Restaurants in Helsinki
Certificate of Excellence
Dining options: After-hours, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: After-hours, Reservations
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level 3 Contributor
20 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Foodie Fun”
Reviewed 14 August 2013

Ask was about a year old at the time of writing, so it's not featured in the Rough Guide or other tourist maps and things you're given as you wander around Helsinki. The restaurant seems almost to encourage that understated status - you'd really want to know where it is because there's no signage on the exterior of No. 8 Vironkatu (a turn left off Mariankatu, which you'll pick up just past the Presidential Palace at the end of the market square).

First things first - this is a funfair ride, so you have to give yourself up to the experience. You get a four or eight course tasting menu for your 55 or 85 Euro respectively. Asking what was on the menu when I called, I was told 'We don't know - chef's still down at the market'. If you think that response is a good thing, you'll love Ask. For another 50 (or 80) Euro, you can buy into the wine selection to accompany the menu. That's pricey, even by Finnish standards, but having gone through the wines I'd say it was reasonable value for money.

One of our table of two doesn't do fish or game I explained when I booked. No problem, they told us and we chatted about what she does like. We pitched and were sat at a table for two at the back (great - the other one was near the door, which was open to a chilly, rainy August evening) in the almost starkly minimalist restaurant - tiny, with a total of 26 covers. Drinks? A Vodka Martini ordered, only to find that we were in the grip of the Organically Minded. No Martini although we could have a vodka and some wholesome fruit juices. Right, then - we'll take the organic champagne from Vertus instead, which was lovely.

The four course menu, which most around us took that night, was brought out by the chef owner himself, with the efficient service from the waitress limited to explaining (at some length) and pouring the wine, clearing plates and offering bread. Each course was introduced, again at length. This is all part of the performance and the best thing to do is sit back and enjoy it. Order your main and they'll do the rest. If you're frustrated by the limitation, don't play - you'll just end up frustrated and muttering. If you're willing to give it all up and go along with the game, fling yourself in with a whoop.

An amuse bouche, a vegetable stock foam with herbs. Delicate, surprising and fun but served with clunky wooden spoons that somehow didn't suit the precision of the dish. And now we have a green salad, little leaves and flowers sprinkled on a cut glass dish with little dabs of a rich, creamy dressing and a spray of elderflower dressing pumped by chef as he chatted then sprayed over the collection. Our first wine, German and surprisingly dry for all that. The combination was sensational. One flower was a little camphorous, something medicinal in there, a hint of coal tar. What was it? Yarrow, of course. Of course.

The second course, a Riesling (if memory serves) - again, complex and drier than expected - accompanying, was 'egg, roots and buckwheat'. We're playing, of course, it's altogether more complex. A moment of fear from the fussy eater opposite as an egg yolk is spied sitting on top of the rich and meaty-tasting (but no meat involved) buckwheat porridge. She don't like runny eggs. But no, the sunset-orange yolk was cooked to perfection, just firm and yet tender and yielding. The roots, painfully young (it was a guilty vegetarian pleasure, a little like eating veggy veal. We were giggling about the idea that hard-core vegetarians would be demoing outside this place within the year about cruelty to young beets), were tender and their little sprigs crisp and salty - a parsnip and carrot (both the size of a delicate lady's little finger) along with a tiny beet and some crispy wisps of green and a drizzle of oil finished off the tiny dish. It was grin-inducing perfection, a variety of flavours and textures that absorbed and entertained.

You'd almost ask for the Curly-Wurly at this point.

A pause, some conversation. The rain started to come down hard and, finally, the front door was closed against the chill. The main - chicken (rooster, in fact) was served across from me as a result of our chat on the phone. I had the wild duck. It was so wild I got a nice crunch of lead shot as proof. Introduced as wild duck, chanterelle and kale, the dish was a set of pink slices of rich duck breast cooked on the bone and served off, laid on a mild mustardy bed with fried kale and dabs of wild buckthorn. The plate could have been warmer, tell the truth. The rooster was perfection, served to the same accompaniments which didn't quite serve the lighter meat as well. However, a burned butter was poured over the chicken rather than the red jus with the duck and both were glorious. A Puligny Montrachet (organic, natch) with the chicken and a chilled French red - a Beaujolais as I remember, it was all becoming a bit of a procession of things by this point and I'm not quite pretentious enough to spoil a meal by taking notes - were both a welcome change from the German stuff and both were complex, fine wines that sat perfectly with the food.

We're happy and thoroughly relaxed by now, sitting back and chatting about the food. Because yes, it is all about the food. A wee dish of beetroot snow and red berries appears before little tulips of dessert wine appear followed by a dish of warm, crispy waffles surrounded by bilberries and sorrel leaves and topped with a scoop (chef allows himself a flourish by now as he serves it) of burned butter ice cream. Smashing - absolutely smashing.

Coffee (the filter system is introduced, the one time in a night of long introductions when I wanted to switch the patter off), Panamanian and organic of course. The cups are 1950s vintage Arabia porcelain. Fine, but don't feel you have to tell us that, dear. By now the intros are wearing thin. The receipt for your bill tonight is printed on handmade organic paper using squid ink from outer Carpathia. Sorry, wandered into over-introduction reverie there. Petits fours - a meringue, a little cream with a berry (a rare misstep, the cream was floury) and a tiny warm chocolate liquorice cake, the size of a thumbnail and reminiscent for some reason of one of Pierre Gagnaire's crazy little ginger biscuit with salt topping moments. A Finnish apple brandy for me and the evening rounded off by a walk home through the drizzle. I went to the toilet and came back to the brandy, thankfully missing its introduction.

If you're going to Helsinki, book this restaurant. Pay the price. Go with the flow, sit back and enjoy the theatre. It's worth every penny and every second. They could pare back the introductions a tad, perhaps. But that's just cavilling - we had no complaints at all really. An altogether remarkable meal.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
5 Thank AlexanderMcNabb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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201 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Finnish first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Helsinki, Finland
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Beautiful food excellent service”
Reviewed 3 August 2013 via mobile

We were here on Valentine's day and all was perfect. The owners were the most nicest people and the food... OMG! The menu of four courses turned out to be eight. The food was so good and well presented and the drink menu as good as can be. Perfect ten! You won't be disappointed, I promise!

Visited February 2013
1 Thank HanneSofia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Calgary, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Fantastic!! Two Thumbs Up!!”
Reviewed 20 June 2013

I am no expert in Helsinki but this was one of the best meals I have enjoyed in a restaurant and doubt there is much better in Finland. The flavors were amazing. At first, the menu can be intimidating because it is a choice of 4 or 8 courses (out of 8) and if you chose 4, you chose one of two mains and trust the staff to chose the other 3 courses (without your consent), but you will soon find out that you can't go wrong here. If you have an open mind and are willing to try things, you will find fresh food that can not be beat.The staff is impressively trained (even for fine dining). Any staff member will be able to tell you where each part of your meal down to the flour in the bread is from and the story behind any wine they serve. Most importantly, the flavors are purposefully blended and fantastic. This will not be a quick meal, but if you are looking to have a very nice dinner, with a relaxing and small atmosphere then this is the place for you.

Good for couples, friends, solo, business I would say. Small children could be impatient and not appreciate the sophisticated flavors.

Pricing is expensive: 55 euros for 4 courses, 85 for 8 and wine paired with each course is 50 and 80, respectively. That said, I do not usually spend this much on a meal and it was 100% worth it.

To put the review in short, we asked if they were open tomorrow at the end of our meal.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Mark695
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kotka, Finland
Level 5 Contributor
87 reviews
41 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Interesting and worth a visit”
Reviewed 20 June 2013

This tiny little restaurant is worth a visit for those who respect Finnish style fine dining. Interior in the restaurant is simple but elegant. There is only 26 seats so it is necessary to make a table reservation.

Restaurant's staff is very friendly and professional. They really took care of us during the whole visit. Waitress had exellent knowledge about the vines and kitchens staff served dihes by themselves and gave very detailed information of each dish.

All dishes were plated like art works and each dish contained multiple interesting details both in flavours and ingredients used. I really appreciate this kind of food but still I'd prefer a bit bigger portions - I guess 8 dishes would have been just perfect amount but when we ate only four the amount of food weren't very much. Selected vines were perfect matches to dishes so restaurant's sommelier really knows his or her job!

After all it is nice that a restaurant really can create the style of it's own and I was really happy I visited Ask and can recommend it for true culinarists!

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Antti P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oslo, Norway
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Excellent food in a relaxed atmosphere”
Reviewed 18 May 2013

If you have one night to spend in Helsinki, spend it here.
The authentic food is excellent with great combinations of tastes. We had the 8 course menu with a Riesling wine package, which turned out to be of surprising variety.
Service is outstanding, they definitely know their wines and dishes, love to tell you about it, and you can feel their joy of sharing. Truly a great experience.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank jarlehagen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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